For a while now, I’ve been gathering with women. It feels new, but it’s how we’ve been gathering way, way back. Seems like all we crave is to connect to each other in a deep and meaningful way. It’s not a new concept. We, women, have been gathering together for a long, long time.
In our modern society, the concept of ‘feminism’ or ‘sisterhood’ is considered recent and new. And while we’re fed from mainstream channels about the commercialized vision of sisterhood, that has nothing to do with real, raw, authentic sisterhood connection.
Those connections and those meetings keep reminding me that we used to live in sisterhoods—it wasn’t named that, because of course it didn’t have to be. It was normal to gather and celebrate: periods, births, and deaths. In some parts of the world, there are still women tribes that cultivate values that are so close to our hearts.
Period—an opportunity for connection
In many tribes, the period is a chance for the tribeswomen to gather and celebrate together. It’s a time where knowledge can be shared, a time of communal support and care. Women from the South Pacific tribe Ulithi spend the days of their period in a specially made wooden hut. She’s met by her sisters who are either pregnant or breastfeeding, and who bring their children along. It’s a chance for festivity, feasting and celebrating. The period is not considered taboo and the menstruating girl left alone. On the contrary, it’s a time to tighten bonds between women and share experiences and wisdom, modeling that to their kids.
Celebrating milestones together
We’ve been celebrating our important events and rites of passage forever. In modern society, the role of a doula is moderately new. But the concept of women gathering around the young mother to provide support has been around for a long time.
When we lived in tribes, whenever one of our sisters was in labour we collected around her during the birth and first days postpartum. We gathered because we felt called to it. It didn’t need labeling. We were there to connect, reassure and provide comfort for the sister in labour. Having a supportive sisterhood around is an extreme relief for the new mother. It’s what Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls a young mother, who regardless of her expertise and age, needs support from mothers who can help guide her on the motherhood path. That doesn’t undermine the mother’s natural intuition for what’s best for her child. It serves to provide a net of support and reassurance that a new mother is making the best choices for herself and her child.
Called to connect
Connecting to other women is our natural way of being. In the late 19th century in rural Eastern Europe, women gathered in the countryside, forming women’s clubs. In Poland, their purpose was to connect housewives from rural areas to provide a net of support, barter skills and work together. Now the Association of Countryside Housewives is considered an independent organization.
These women seem to engage in so many different activities and purposes that it’s hard for the authorities to pinpoint their purpose and provide a definition. Women of the associations met periodically to bake together, weave or paint. It is also a safe space for young girls to learn crafts from more experienced women. It provides business support, childcare and education. Additionally, it is a space for connection, and entertainment. No wonder it’s hard to label. It’s just like us, fluid.
It’s hard to see a multidimensional, full image of the meaning of sisterhood with the modern culture’s depiction of women’s connection. It’s something beyond a “squad” or “girl gang,” pop culture buzzwords that trivialize and downgrade the depth of sisterhood. The concepts behind the real connection, the one deeply rooted in our core, go way deeper. We know how to cultivate it, and collectively we’re waking up to this old way of connection. We’re seeking meaningful gatherings—hence the rising popularity of moon circles, menarches celebrations and retreats.
We’re awakening into the collective movement recreating a net of support. I see it in my sisters and I see it in myself. I want to gather with my female tribe to drum, sing and create together. To bleed together and talk about our shared experiences. In this way, we cultivate deeply rooted connections, healing the wounds of the generations. We gather in Nature and slow down. By connecting to the Moon and the Mother Earth—the ultimate guides of the sacred feminine.
We’re the change
As we gather with other women and celebrate different faces and phases of womanhood we’re being the change. We get to hear the stories of the fellow sisters, not the ideas of womanhood sold to us by mainstream media. We can see how many of our experiences are similar—the way we face discrimination and inequality. It’s also a chance to see how we show up as women differently—how we find our strengths and power in different realms, and how we uniquely manifest feminine and masculine aspects. Seeing other women for who they are is healing, not only for us but for the whole society.
The more we listen to the stories of the sister, and learn to see and appreciate her body and her story, we’re starting a revolution. It’s a revolution way beyond the ideas that the media is selling us. It’s a movement back to our roots, back to the interconnected and sacred power of sisterhood.
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Photo by by Shane Rounce via Unsplash; Leighann Blackwood via Unsplash